Planning an Event in the City

Public Works

Cambridge residents may host events in City parks, plazas, streets or sidewalks with a permit. The type of permit and steps you must take depend on what type of event you intend to host.

Small Events in Parks

For small events in a park (i.e. a child's birthday party, a picnic or a potluck, you will need to complete a Park Permit Application. Park permits are only available to Cambridge residents, businesses and organization. At least 50% of the participants at the event must be residents of Cambridge. Cambridge-based companies sponsoring requests for permits must certify that all participants are employed by and on the payroll of the company. 

The park permit gives priority to use specific areas of the park (like picnic tables and benches) and notifies park staff to clean up before and after the event, however, the park will remain open to the public during the event and permit holders are not permitted to turn non-guests away. Prepared food and beverages are allowed in the park, but no alcohol or grilling is allowed. 

It is recommended that residents reserve the park at least 3 weeks in advance of an event. For a full list of parks in the City, please click here. Be sure to review all parks that are under construction to make sure the park you select is available. 

Special Events

If you are interested in hosting a road race, charity walk, festival, parade or other large event in the City, on either public or private property, you will need to apply for a Special Event Permit. You will need to provide information including: location, date/time, number of attendees expected, age group, type of event, presence of food or alcohol, live or amplified music, electrical needs, etc. Your application will need to go through several departments depending on the nature of event before being approved. You may be required to attend the monthly Special Events Committee meeting where staff from different departments are available to meet to go over plans. 

Tips and FAQs

What types of activities does the City of Cambridge define as "special events" requiring the Special Event Application to be completed?

The type of activity that requires a Special Event Application to be completed is an event that is open to the general public; it can be held on public or private property; it may feature entertainment, amusements, food and beverages; it may be classified as a festival, road race, parade, or walkathon.  A special event of this size and nature does require a number of permits from various City departments before it is officially approved.

How can I get assistance or information about the Special Events Application process?

Please contact Rob Linke at 617-349-9498 /

What if I am scheduling a large and/or complicated event that might require me to coordinate with multiple City Departments?

In that case, you may be required to attend the monthly Special Events Committee meeting, where staff from multiple City Departments are available to meet with special event planners

Page was posted on 7/24/2019 1:32 PM
Page was last modified on 10/10/2019 8:36 AM
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